WeChat and WeChat Pay are part of everyday life in China.
For those who may not be aware, WeChat is a social media giant in China. With a billion users and counting, the next logical step for this mega platform was the introduction of cashless payments via WeChat Pay.
Interested to learn how this can affect you on a China tour?
We’ve got everything you need to know right here.
What is WeChat Pay?
WeChat Pay is one of China’s two foremost e-payment platforms. Together these platforms are used by 90 percent of the population. Making everyday transactions super simple, WeChat Pay and Alipay have changed the way merchants sell and buyers pay for products and services in China.
Now progress is a wonderful thing, but there are a few challenges around payments that many western travelers experience while visiting on a China tour.
One big impact to be aware of through the proliferation of these platforms is that China moving closer to becoming truly cashless. (Incredibly, even street vendors use WeChat Pay.)
This is great if you’re a local in Beijing tucking into your breakfast of Qingfeng steamed dumplings, but what if you’re a western traveler on a China tour. What’s the best way to pay, given there’s a move away from cash, and even some credit or debit cards aren’t accepted?
Breathe easy because WeChat Pay can help.
The owners of WeChat Pay have finally realised the opportunity and now have an option for foreign travelers.
Recently WeChat pay announced visitors can add foreign credit cards to WeChat, allowing them to make mobile payments in China. Considering how much easier it is to buy just about anything in China using WeChat Pay, this is a big step forward.
Ready to download the app? Let’s go!
#1：WeChat and WeChat Pay for foreigners
Fortunately, using WeChat and WeChat pay is simple. But just to be sure you’re across everything you need to know, we’ve outlined every step right here.
Download WeChat from the App Store or Google Play. Complete registration, login and open up on your phone.
Click “Me” on the bottom menu to find my “Wallet”, where you can click on the “Cards” menu item to add your credit cards.
Now you’re ready to buy your own dumplings in Beijing!
#2：Shopping with WeChat Pay
Whether you’re shopping in a Shanghai department store on Nanjing Street, catching a bus in Beijing, or buying specialty food in Zhangjiajie, you can use WeChat Pay to make your purchase.
To make things as easy as possible, WeChat Pay offers two ways to make purchases.
One option is the store or vendor can scan your unique WeChat barcode. Alternatively you can scan the barcode of the merchant you are buying items or services from.
Just click ‘+’ on the upper right corner on Chat page to find the options. Check out the image below to see where to navigate to in the app.
#3：There’s more to WeChat than making payments
WeChat was originally set up as a social media platform, so it naturally offers all the functionality that allows users to connect with friends and colleagues.
In China and want to connect with other travelers on your tour? Why not add a friend or two? This is super simple to do.
Simply select the ‘Chat’ or ‘Contacts’ tab at the bottom of your screen, tap on the ‘+’ icon in the upper right corner, and choose “Add Contacts”.
You can then search for people — or businesses — by phone number or WeChat ID, then add them to your network by hitting the “Follow” button.
There are other easy ways to add friends, like scanning their QR codes. That’s right, everyone gets their own WeChat QR code.
Access your QR code by selecting the “Me” option and tapping the QR code icon. You can scan the code with the built-in QR reader that can also be found in the ‘+’ icon.
#4：You’re now ready to connect with your China tour network
WeChat is a great way to connect with other people on your China tour and to stay in touch with your China tour organizer and tour guide.
Ready to chat? Here’s how you do it.
Simply tap on the person you want to talk to in your contact list. You can do this by typing or even recording a minute long audio message. This is perfect if you want to make or confirm arrangements while you’re traveling. It’s easy and quick too.
And if you’ve changed your mind, no problem. One great WeChat feature is you can even recall a sent message if you take action within the first two minutes of sending.
Need translation. WeChat is multilingual too. It will translate messages if they aren’t in your preferred language.
Both these features can be accessed by tapping and holding a message, which will bring up a list of different options.
When you tap the ‘⊕’ icon, you, a function menu will be displayed where you could find icons to take and share photos and videos, share your location, transfer money, make a voice or visual telephone.
The image below shows how this works.
#5：Chatting with a group on WeChat
Want to connect with your whole tour group at once? WeChat will let you do that.
Tap on the ‘+’ icon in the upper right corner, then ‘New Chat’, and choose all the people who want to talk in this group. Booking a tour group dinner has never been easier!
#6：WeChat can do more than connect and pay
WeChat is a platform that does more than connect and pay.
When you have a few spare minutes - perhaps waiting for that high speed train to Xian or your flight to Shanghai - explore WeChat’s other functionality.
In the Discovery menu, you can share photos and videos and articles just like you would in the ‘Moments’ function on Facebook.
WeChat is also home to other functions, which can be found in the ‘Mini Programs’ menu. It’s here you’ll find the tools to shop, order take-away, book tickets, vehicles, delivery services - pretty much anything you can think of.
WeChat and WeChat Pay are ideal for taking on a China tour
Using WeChat and WeChat Pay while traveling on a China tour can make things easier to manage and navigate. They provide a seamless way to connect and pay - and you’ll feel like a local. Be sure to do your research about best ways to pay in China before departing for your China tour.
ChinaTours.com is dedicated to helping western travelers enjoy a genuine experience of China. We constantly strive to find ways that enhance the tour and enrich the tour experience. While you travel with us, we want you to feel connected and cared for. We believe that staying in touch with your tour guide helps contribute to that level of care and provides peace of mind. WeChat is just one tool that can help. If you’d like to learn more about how we design and deliver China tours, we’d love to hear from you. Enquire via our contact form and we’ll respond within 24 hours.